Reducing Gastroschisis Mortality: A Quality Improvement Initiative at a Ugandan Pediatric Surgery Unit

Introduction: With modern treatment, survival of gastroschisis exceeds 90% in high-income countries. Survival in these countries has been largely attributed to prenatal diagnosis, delivery at tertiary facilities with timely resuscitation, timely intervention, parenteral nutrition and intensive care facilities. In sub-Saharan Africa, due to lack of these facilities, mortality rates are still alarmingly high ranging from 75 to 100%. In Uganda the mortality is 98%.

Aim: The aim of this study was to reduce gastroschisis mortality in a feasible, sustainable way using a locally derived gastroschisis care protocol at a referring hospital in Western Uganda.

Methods: Data collection was performed from January to October 2018. Nursing staff were interviewed regarding the survival and management of gastroschisis babies. A locally derived protocol was created with staff input and commitment from all the team members.

Results: Four mothers absconded and 17 babies were cared for using the newly designed protocol. Seven survived and were well at one month post discharge follow-up, reducing the mortality for this condition from 98 to 59%.

Conclusion: A dedicated team with minimal resources can significantly reduce the mortality in gastroschisis by almost 40% using a locally derived protocol.

Priorities for peri‐operative research in Africa

Deaths following surgery are the third largest contributor to deaths globally, and in Africa are twice the global average. There is a need for a peri‐operative research agenda to ensure co‐ordinated, collaborative research efforts across Africa in order to decrease peri‐operative mortality. The objective was to determine the top 10 research priorities for peri‐operative research in Africa. A Delphi technique was used to establish consensus on the top research priorities. The top 10 research priorities identified were (1) Develop training standards for peri‐operative healthcare providers (surgical, anaesthesia and nursing) in Africa; (2) Develop minimum provision of care standards for peri‐operative healthcare providers (surgical, anaesthesia and nursing) in Africa; (3) Early identification and management of mothers at risk from peripartum haemorrhage in the peri‐operative period; (4) The role of communication and teamwork between surgical, anaesthetic, nursing and other teams involved in peri‐operative care; (5) A facility audit/African World Health Organization situational analysis tool audit to assess emergency and essential surgical care, which includes anaesthetic equipment available and level of training and knowledge of peri‐operative healthcare providers (surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses); (6) Establishing evidence‐based practice guidelines for peri‐operative physicians in Africa; (7) Economic analysis of strategies to finance access to surgery in Africa; (8) Establishment of a minimum dataset surgical registry; (9) A quality improvement programme to improve implementation of the surgical safety checklist; and (10) Peri‐operative outcomes associated with emergency surgery. These peri‐operative research priorities provide the structure for an intermediate‐term research agenda to improve peri‐operative outcomes across Africa

Care Bundle Approach to Reduce Surgical Site Infections in Acute Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Cairo, Egypt

Introduction
Surgical site infections (SSIs) are one of the most frequently reported hospital acquired infections associated with significant spread of antibiotic resistance.

Purpose
We aimed to evaluate a bundle-based approach in reducing SSI at acute surgical intensive care unit of the Emergency Hospital of Cairo University.

Patients and Methods
Our prospective study ran from March 2018 to February 2019 and used risk assessment. The study was divided into three phases. Phase I: (pre-bundle phase) for 5 months; data collection, active surveillance of the SSIs, screening for OXA-48 producing Enterobacteriaceae and multidrug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii colonizers using Chrom agars were carried out. Phase II: (bundle-implementation) a 6-S bundle approach included education, training and postoperative bathing with Chlorhexidine Gluconate in collaboration with the infection control team. Finally, Phase III: (post-implementation) for estimation of compliance, rates of colonization, and infection.

Results
Phase I encompassed 177 patients, while Phase III included 93 patients. A significant reduction of colonization from 24% to 15% (p<0.001) was observed. Similarly, a decrease of SSI from 27% to 15% (p=0.02) was noticed. A logistic regression was performed to adjust for confounding in the implementation of the bundle and we found a 70% reduction of SSI odd’s ratio (OR’s ratio = 0.3) confidence interval (95% CI 0.14–0.6) with significant Apache II (p=0.04), type of wound; type II (p=0.002), type III (p=0.001) and duration of surgery (p=0.04) as independent risk factors for SSI. Klebsiella pneumoniae was the most prevalent organism during phase I (34.7%). On the other hand, A. baumannii was the commonest organism to be isolated during phase III with (38.5%) preceding K. pneumoniae (30%).

Conclusion
Our study demonstrated that the implementation of a multidisciplinary bundle containing evidence-based interventions was associated with a significant reduction of colonization and SSIs and was met with staff approval and acceptable compliance.

Availability, procurement, training, usage, maintenance and complications of electrosurgical units and laparoscopic equipment in 12 African countries

Background: Strategies are needed to increase the availability of surgical equipment in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This study was undertaken to explore the current availability, procurement, training, usage, maintenance and complications encountered during use of electrosurgical units (ESUs) and laparoscopic equipment.

Methods: A survey was conducted among surgeons attending the annual meeting of the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) in December 2017 and the annual meeting of the Surgical Society of Kenya (SSK) in March 2018. Biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) were surveyed and maintenance records collected in Kenya between February and March 2018.

Results: Among 80 participants, there were 59 surgeons from 12 African countries and 21 BMETs from Kenya. Thirty-six maintenance records were collected. ESUs were available for all COSECSA and SSK surgeons, but only 49 per cent (29 of 59) had access to working laparoscopic equipment. Reuse of disposable ESU accessories and difficulties obtaining carbon dioxide were identified. More than three-quarters of surgeons (79 per cent) indicated that maintenance of ESUs was available, but only 59 per cent (16 of 27) confirmed maintenance of laparoscopic equipment at their centre.

Conclusion: Despite the availability of surgical equipment, significant gaps in access to maintenance were apparent in these LMICs, limiting implementation of open and laparoscopic surgery.

Burden of emergency pediatric surgical procedures on surgical capacity in Uganda: a new metric for health system performance

Background: The significant burden of emergency operations in low- and middle-income countries can overwhelm surgical capacity leading to a backlog of elective surgical cases. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the burden of emergency procedures on pediatric surgical capacity in Uganda and to determine health metrics that capture surgical backlog and effective coverage of children’s surgical disease in low- and middle-income countries.

Methods: We reviewed 2 independent and prospectively collected databases on pediatric surgical admissions at Mulago National Referral Hospital and Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda. Pediatric surgical patients admitted at either hospital between October 2015 to June 2017 were included. Our primary outcome was the distribution of surgical acuity and associated mortality.

Results: A combined total of 1,930 patients were treated at the two hospitals, and 1,110 surgical procedures were performed. There were 571 emergency cases (51.6%), 108 urgent cases (9.7%), and 429 elective cases (38.6%). Overall mortality correlated with surgical acuity. Emergency intestinal diversions for colorectal congenital malformations (anorectal malformations and Hirschsprung’s disease) to elective definitive repair was 3:1. Additionally, 30% of inguinal hernias were incarcerated or strangulated at time of repair.

Conclusion: Emergency and urgent operations utilize the majority of operative resources for pediatric surgery groups in low- and middle-income countries, leading to a backlog of complex congenital procedures. We propose the ratio of emergency diversion to elective repair of colorectal congenital malformations and the ratio of emergency to elective repair of inguinal hernias as effective health metrics to track this backlog. Surgical capacity for pediatric conditions should be increased in Uganda to prevent a backlog of elective cases.

Operative Treatment of Traumatic Spinal Injuries in Tanzania: Surgical Management, Neurologic Outcomes, and Time to Surgery

Objective:
Little is known about operative management of traumatic spinal injuries (TSI) in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). In patients undergoing surgery for TSI in Tanzania, we sought to (1) determine factors involved in the operative decision-making process, specifically implant availability and surgical judgment; (2) report neurologic outcomes; and (3) evaluate time to surgery.

Methods:
All patients from October 2016 to June 2019 who presented with TSI and underwent surgical stabilization. Fracture type, operation, neurologic status, and time-to-care was collected.

Results:
Ninety-seven patients underwent operative stabilization, 23 (24%) cervical and 74 (77%) thoracic/lumbar. Cervical operations included 4 (17%) anterior cervical discectomy and fusion with plate, 7 (30%) anterior cervical corpectomy with tricortical iliac crest graft and plate, and 12 (52%) posterior cervical laminectomy and fusion with lateral mass screws. All 74 (100%) of thoracic/lumbar fractures were treated with posterolateral pedicle screws. Short-segment fixation was used in 86%, and constructs often ended at an injured (61%) or junctional (62%) level. Sixteen (17%) patients improved at least 1 ASIA grade. The sole predictor of neurologic improvement was faster time from admission to surgery (odds ratio = 1.04, P = .011, 95%CI = 1.01-1.07). Median (range) time in days included: injury to admission 2 (0-29), admission to operating room 23 (0-81), and operating room to discharge 8 (2-31).

Conclusions:
In a cohort of LMIC patients with TSI undergoing stabilization, the principle driver of operative decision making was cost of implants. Faster time from admission to surgery was associated with neurologic improvement, yet significant delays to surgery were seen due to patients’ inability to pay for implants. Several themes for improvement emerged: early surgery, implant availability, prehospital transfer, and long-term follow-up.

Prehospital Epidemiology and Management of Injured Children in Kigali, Rwanda

Introduction: Paediatric injuries are a major cause of mortality and disability worldwide, yet little information exists regarding its epidemiology or prehospital management in low-income and middle-income countries. We aimed to describe the paediatric injuries seen and managed by the prehospital ambulance service, Service d’Aide Medicale d’Urgence (SAMU), in Kigali, Rwanda over more than 3 years.

Methods: A retrospective, descriptive analysis was conducted of all injured children managed by SAMU in the prehospital setting between December 2012 and April 2016.

Results: SAMU responded to a total of 636 injured children, 10% of all patients seen. The incidence of paediatric injury in Kigali, Rwanda was 140 injuries per 100 000 children. 65% were male and the average age 13.5 (±5.3). Most patients were between 15 and 19 years old (56%). The most common causes of injuries were road traffic incidents (RTIs) (447, 72%), falls (70, 11%) and assaults (50, 8%). Most RTIs involved pedestrians (251, 56%), while 15% (65) involved a bicycle. Anatomical injuries included trauma to the head (330, 52%), lower limb (280, 44%) and upper limb (179, 28%). Common interventions included provision of pain medications (445, 70%), intravenous fluids (217, 34%) and stabilisation with cervical collar (190, 30%).

Conclusion: In Kigali, RTIs were the most frequent cause of injuries to children requiring prehospital response with most RTIs involving pedestrians. Rwanda has recently instituted several programmes to reduce the impact of paediatric injuries especially with regard to RTIs. These include changes in traffic laws and increased road safety initiatives.

Universal Access to Surgical Care and Sustainable Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Case for Surgical Systems Research

National level experiences, lessons learnt from the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) era coupled with the academic evidence and proposals generated by the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery (LCoGS) together with the economic arguments and recommendations from the World Bank Group’s “Essential Surgery” Disease Control Priorities (DCP3) publication, provided the impetus for political commitments to improve surgical care capacity at the primary level of the healthcare system in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as part of their drive towards universal health coverage (UHC) in the form of World Health Organization (WHO) Resolution A68.15.

This global commitment from governments must be followed up with development of a Global Action Plan and a global coordination mechanism supported by regional implementation frameworks on the part of the WHO in order for the organisation to better coordinate all stakeholders and sustain the technical support needed to develop and implement national surgical health policy in the form of National Surgical Obstetric and Anaesthesia Plans (NSOAPs). As expounded by Gajewski et al, data and research output on surgical care is essential to informing policy development and programme implementation. This area still remains a challenge in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) but it is envisaged that countries will include this key component in their ongoing national surgical healthcare policy development and programme implementation. In the Zambian case study, research in the area of Global Surgery investment-the surgical workforce scale-up is used to demonstrate the important role of implementation research in the development and implementation of the Zambian NSOAP as well as the need for international collaborations to this end. Scale-up reviews informed by implementation research to evaluate progress on the commitments contained in Resolution A68.15 and Decision A70.22 are essential to sustain the momentum and to help maintain focus on the gaps in all countries. There are opportunities for non-state actors especially local sub-regional academic institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private sector to play a key role in surgical healthcare policy development and implementation research. Collection of and better information management of standardised surgical care indicators is essential for such research, for bi-annual WHO progress reporting and for demonstration of impact to justify and encourage further investments in surgical care.

Rural and urban differences in treatment status among children with surgical conditions in Uganda.

BACKGROUND:
In low and middle-income countries, approximately 85% of children have a surgically treatable condition before the age of 15. Within these countries, the burden of pediatric surgical conditions falls heaviest on those in rural areas. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the relationship between rurality, surgical condition and treatment status among a cohort of Ugandan children.

METHODS:
We identified 2176 children from 2315 households throughout Uganda using the Surgeons OverSeas Assessment of Surgical Need (SOSAS) survey. Children were randomly selected and were included in the study if they were 18 years of age or younger and had a surgical condition. Location of residence, surgical condition, and treatment status was compared among children.

RESULTS:
Of the 305 children identified with surgical conditions, 81.9% lived in rural areas. The most prevalent causes of surgical conditions reported among rural and urban children were masses (24.0% and 25.5%, respectively), followed by wounds due to injury (19.6% and 16.4%, respectively). Among children with untreated surgical conditions, 79.1% reside in rural areas while 20.9% reside in urban areas. Among children with untreated surgical conditions, the leading reason for not seeking surgical care among children living in both rural and urban areas was a lack of money (40.6% and 31.4%, respectively), and the leading reason for not receiving care in both rural and urban settings was a lack of money (48.0% and 42.8%, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS:
Our data suggest that over half of the children with a surgical condition surveyed are not receiving surgical care and a large majority of children with surgical needs were living in rural areas. Future interventions aimed at increasing surgical access in rural areas in low-income countries are needed.

Severe maternal outcomes in eastern Ethiopia: Application of the adapted maternal near miss tool.

BACKGROUND:
With the reduction of maternal mortality, maternal near miss (MNM) has been used as a complementary indicator of maternal health. The objective of this study was to assess the frequency of MNM in eastern Ethiopia using an adapted sub-Saharan Africa MNM tool and compare its applicability with the original WHO MNM tool.

METHODS:
We applied the sub-Saharan Africa and WHO MNM criteria to 1054 women admitted with potentially life-threatening conditions (including 28 deaths) in Hiwot Fana Specialized University Hospital and Jugel Hospital between January 2016 and April 2017. Discharge records were examined to identify deaths or women who developed MNM according to the sub-Saharan or WHO criteria. We calculated and compared MNM and severe maternal outcome ratios. Mortality index (ratio of maternal deaths to SMO) was calculated as indicator of quality of care.

RESULTS:
The sub-Saharan Africa criteria identified 594 cases of MNM and all the 28 deaths while the WHO criteria identified 128 cases of MNM and 26 deaths. There were 7404 livebirths during the same period. This gives MNM ratios of 80 versus 17 per 1000 live births for the adapted and original WHO criteria. Mortality index was 4.5% and 16.9% in the adapted and WHO criteria respectively. The major difference between the two criteria can be attributed to eclampsia, sepsis and differences in the threshold for transfusion of blood.

CONCLUSION:
The sub-Saharan Africa criteria identified all the MNM cases identified by the WHO criteria and all the maternal deaths. Applying the WHO criteria alone will cause under reporting of MNM cases (including maternal deaths) in this low-resource setting. The mortality index of 4.5% among women who fulfilled the adapted MNM criteria justifies labeling these women as having ‘life-threatening conditions’.